Church

How to Welcome People to your Church

I wish every church said what this church says in their bulletin

It’s easy to poke fun at some of the things churches say on their welcome sign. It’s easy to question some of the things that make it inside a church bulletin.

It’s easy to say “this is bad,” but it’s a lot harder to say “this is good.” Anyone can critique, but creating is a lot more difficult.

So what does a great welcome message look like? What does an awesome welcome message look like?

It looks exactly like what “Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Community” has in their church.

My friend attended there recently, and I got a copy of what they hand out. I posted a photo of it below so you could see what it looks like, but the image got cut off so here’s what it says:

We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, gay, filthy rich, dirt poor, yo no habla Ingles. We extend a special welcome to those who are crying new-borns, skinny as a rail or could afford to lose a few pounds.

We welcome you if you can sing like Andrea Bocelli or like our pastor who can’t carry a note in a bucket. You’re welcome here if you’re “just browsing,” just woke up or just got out of jail. We don’t care if you’re more Catholic than the Pope, or haven’t been in church since little Joey’s Baptism.

We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome soccer moms, NASCAR dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, junk-food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems or you’re down in the dumps or if you don’t like “organized religion,” we’ve been there too.

If you blew all your offering money at the dog track, you’re welcome here. We offer a special welcome to those who think the earth is flat, work too hard, don’t work, can’t spell, or because grandma is in town and wanted to go to church.

We welcome those who are inked, pierced or both. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid or got lost in traffic and wound up here by mistake. We welcome tourists, seekers and doubters, bleeding hearts … and you!

Bravo to Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Community! That should be made into a poster and hung in church offices around the world.

I love the thought that a few members of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Community getting together and saying, “Let’s invite everyone to come meet Jesus!” And then they started writing their list.

And it got long. Why?

Because everyone needs Jesus.

Everyone changes when they meet Jesus.

And they wanted to make sure everyone knew they were invited to meet him.

HT

19 thoughts on “How to Welcome People to your Church

    1. Fabulous! Have emailed it to a few people, and one RC priest has already come back and said “why didn’t WE think of doing this?”

  1. What a coincidence! If such a church meant it and it was within a hundred miles of where I live, I might think about “handing in” my priesthood, going to live there and reconciling with Rome. 😉

    1. You could “be reconciled with Rome” and then do something like this surely? Sometimes people do need encouragement and perhaps you are just the person to do that!

      1. Oh, don’t worry, I’m in no hurry. If I were reconciled with Rome, it would be as a layman and I wouldn’t be in a position to encourage anyone to do anything. Naturally, I go lightly on people! And don’t forget that in my part of the world, it’s very grotty Novus Ordo or very radical traditionalism – nothing that attracts me. I lose no sleep over it…

  2. Two questions:

    (1) But do they welcome Catholics?

    and (2) do they welcome non-Catholics and non-practicing Catholics with the added provisio that instruction in the Faith will be provided, please see so-and-so?

    Because if the purpose of going to church is to receive genuine and valid Sacraments so that you may prepare your soul for Eternity, this welcome message is not very comforting.

      1. Stuart,

        I believe you may be right — I sure hope to miss that spirit! Let’s all avoid it and be one in the Holy Spirit.

        (To answer my initial questions: (1) any Catholic should be rightly repelled by such a welcome banner in his church, and also (2) any Catholic would know that treating these things, from sodomy to divorce to body modification, with such lightheartedness as to certainly not condemn but to even openly endorse it, is a great evil. The stain of one mortal sin will condemn a soul eternally to Hell. So again I ask: what spirit is this?)

        And just so you know, I talked to Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Community (www.ourladydunedin.org), and they have no such sign on their property at all. They’ve been getting calls and emails about this all day. It’s apparently a fake, and as such it’s meant to undermine and insult the Catholic religion. What I find terrifying is how many Catholic laity, and clergy(!), are so excited about it.

  3. Hi CC, firstly, I would assume there is more than one “Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Community”. I see absolutely no reason why the original blogger would deceive, especially, given his extremely high profile.

    Having a quick look it appears that he does not identify their location.

    I knew when I wrote the words: “you’ve missed the spirit of this” how you would respond. And the reason I knew is that I am sympathetic with what your reasoning.

    However.

    The sins you note; folk in our society are committing with (what they believe is) impunity. I do not see this “welcome” as a validation of these sins, but a call to sinners to come to the Church as they are, and receive the message.

    Only once they hear the message and experience the reality, is there any chance of conviction, repentance and forgiveness.

  4. Well. I’m afraid I’m going to have to make things unpleasant. But because someone said that they may be reconciled with Rome due to this message, I will try to be 20% less abrasive than usual.

    This is simply too nice. Yes, the Church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum of saints. Not one of us is exempt from this fallen state, save maybe the Blessed Virgin. People also say that they go to church to be comforted. Yes, God gives comfort and will help us.

    But I think this is too easy. It is one thing to welcome the sinner. But what is the point of going to Church if no one really makes an effort to change their lives? Is it the will of God that we should be happy and content with being sinners? Nice as it may be, this sentiment may lead to a general attitude that we do not need asceticism, of limiting our passions and appetites that, left unchecked, will lead us to ruin. And then, the attitude that one does not need the Sacraments at all.

    And from there, it’s easy to make a leap into the common declarations I hear from people of my generation: “I don’t need God/Religion to be happy and to do good!” This statement is probably the greatest evil I have heard that a large amount of people accept. And the “Church of Nice” is to be blamed. I want some stability founded on firmness, consistency, and authority, something that the Roman Catholic Church has been lacking for some decades now.

    1. And firmness, stability, consistency, and authority are not necessarily as pleasant and welcoming or politically correct or charitable as we’d like them to be. But just because we don’t like it, doesn’t mean we don’t need it.

      1. I don’t like that Archbishop. I’d personally prefer to have people like Cardinal Raymond Burke in his place. But I am not his judge, and the Holy Father has appointed him. I do not presume to be the Holy Father’s equal nor do I believe I am entitled to depose and appoint bishops merely because I agree or disagree with their theology.

        But I am allowed to voice my opinion and disagree with that Archbishop’s writing- seriously, what can they do, send the Swiss Guards after me? If they did, they should start with pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, pro-contraception counterfeit Catholics in the Church. Who they are aren’t so hard to spot nor are they always camouflaged among the faithful.

        I don’t know him personally, but in his writings I find a lot that I don’t like. But even if I don’t like some things about this Archbishop’s writings, surely there must be SOME merit to him, or else the Holy Father would not have appointed him. I’ll just have to be patient to see what merit he has.

  5. Jesus commiserated with everyone and ate and drank with sinners, so HE too put out the sign saying “All are Welcome”; HE even had the presumption of saying: “prostitutes and tax collectors will get into the Kingdom before you” (who are self-righteous). Yes, HE put the “All are Welcome” sign at the entrance door, BUT Jesus did not let anyone leave the way they came in. HE put up no barriers – HE fed them with HIS Word – HIS Wisdom; ultimately HE fed them with the Finest Wheat – The Eucharist–“Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you will have no Life in you” – they ‘Encountered the Living Christ’! The ‘Catholic Parish Church’ has this same mandate: to bring people to the ‘Living Christ’ via ‘The Word and Sacrament’! If people left the same as when they came in–then they went through a revolving door – they missed that ‘Encounter with the ‘Living Christ’! It is tantamount then to just a ‘feel good church’ – feel good about yourself – complacent in your sins – an ‘I’m OK your OK Spirituality’ – and lets go have coffee and donuts to celebrate US.
    The Saints came into the Chruch as sinners, but left completely ‘Transformed in Christ’ – and so should “All who are Welcome”!

    1. Jesus Christ declared:

      “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

      But St. Paul comments:

      “…he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body..”

      1. Ioannes: you are correct in saying so…. First, to make clear that I am NOT a ‘liberal catholic’ and do not condone a free-for-all to The Eucharistic Banquet. In saying “encountering the Living Christ via The Word and Sacrament”, that implies repentance/reconciliation – or the ‘Sacrament of Confession’ (most especially in the case of ‘mortal sin’) – BEFORE receiving the ‘Blessed Sacrament’! In fact, this reality is at the very undergirdings of my comment; that is to say, to ‘encounter the Living Christ’ in the FULLNESS of the “Catholic Church” is to encounter HIM in the Eucharist; to encounter HIM in the Eucharist is to FIRST encounter HIM in reconciliation; it is NOT a ‘feel-good church’ – to just leave people in their sins and feeling-good about leaving-people-feeling-good about their sins. However, what I am saying – beyond the rubrics of the Church’s teachings – goes DEEP into the ‘Heart of Jesus’: “Mercy is what I desire not Sacrifice”! Vatican II was initiated to ‘open wide the windows to the Holy Spirit’ from the smugness and stale air that was choking much of the Life from the people of God (unfortunately the Devil is an Opportunist and stuck his forked-tail in as well). Nevertheless, God is ALWAYS at work in HIS Holy Church and our countenance should be such as that of ‘fluid vessels’ for all whom Chirst desires to bring into the fold. If we are just ‘Pharisaical legalists’ well, Jesus had some harsh rebukes about that…”blind guides” and “heaping heavy burdens upon the people’s shoulders but not lifting a finger to unburden them”, “white-washed sepulchers” etc.!
        St. John of the Cross tells us: “In the end we will be judged on LOVE Alone” – a Chirst-like ‘Merciful Love’ which is TRUTH Itself! It is the Holy Spirit Who is at work in each and every Soul and who are we to say who is or isn’t to remain outside…of ‘Jesus’ Tribunal of Mercy’!!

      2. Consider these words that used to be said in Anglican Churches in Canada:
        “DEARLY beloved in the Lord, ye that mind to come to the holy Communion of the Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ, must Consider how Saint Paul exhorteth all persons diligently to try and examine themselves, before they presume to eat of that Bread, and drink of that Cup. For as the benefit is great, if with a true penitent heart and living faith we receive that holy Sacrament; (for then we spiritually eat the flesh of Christ, and drink his blood; then we dwell in Christ, and Christ in us; we are one with Christ, and Christ with us;) so is the danger great if we receive the same unworthily. For then we are guilty of the Body and Blood of Christ our Saviour; we eat and drink our own condemnation, not discerning the Lord’s Body. Judge therefore yourselves, brethren, that ye be not judged of the Lord; repent you truly for your sins past; have a lively and stedfast faith in Christ our Saviour; amend your lives, and be in perfect charity with all men; so shall ye be meet partakers of those holy mysteries. And above all things ye must give most humble and hearty thanks to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, for the redemption of the world by the death and passion of our Saviour Christ, both God and Man; who did humble himself, even to the death upon the Cross, for us miserable sinners, who lay in darkness and the shadow of death; that he might make us the children of God, and exalt us to everlasting life. And to the end that we should alway remember the exceeding great love of our Master and only Saviour Jesus Christ, thus dying for us, and the innumerable benefits which by his precious blood-shedding he hath obtained to us; he hath instituted and ordained holy mysteries as pledges of his love, and for a continual remembrance of his death, to our great and endless comfort. To him therefore, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, let us give (as we are most bounden) continual thanks; submitting ourselves wholly to his holy will and pleasure, and studying to serve him in true holiness and righteousness all the days of our life. Amen.”
        Found at the bottom of this:
        http://prayerbook.ca/the-prayer-book-online/86-the-order-of-the-ministration-of-the-holy-communion-page-67

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